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“You have caused delay and confusion, but you have told the truth, and a useful engine always tells the truth.”
―Mr. Percival to Duncan

Duncan's Bluff is the twenty-fourth episode of the tenth series.


It is wintertime and Duncan is delivering coal from the wharf to the mountain villages. So James and Thomas are bringing Coal to the Wharf from the Coaling Plant for the Villangers. One day, he meets James and is quick to tease him for being late. James is not in the mood for Duncan's teasing; he has to take some children to a Christmas concert. Duncan thinks that two jobs in one day is too much for the medium red engine and James thinks he is much faster than Duncan. Duncan decides to challenge James to a coal delivery competition. Duncan reckons he can get coal to the villages faster than James can deliver coal to the wharf. James accepts the challenge and goes off to collect more coal from the coaling plant, leaving Duncan feeling a little sheepish. He is worried that he will lose the challenge as James is bigger and faster than he is.

Duncan delivers all of the coal to the villages, only to find James back with more coal trucks. However, not wanting to lose, Duncan tells James that he has not brought enough coal for the villages, so James sets off once again for the Coaling Plant. Duncan makes his deliveries, but once back at the wharf, there are still many coal trucks waiting for him even though no more coal is needed for the mountain villages. So Duncan decides to trick James by hiding the remaining coal trucks out of sight in a siding before he returns.

James is making his way back from the coaling plant, but he is getting worn out and he is using up a lot of coal. James is shocked to find Duncan already there, but James decides to get even more coal trucks for Duncan to take. However, James only succeeds in running out of coal and now he cannot collect the children for their concert.

The Thin Controller hears about James and informs Duncan about the situation. Duncan is struck with guilt; his trick had made things worse, so he owns up to his prank by telling the Thin Controller. Duncan quickly collects one of the hidden coal trucks, takes it to James, apologises to him about the trick, and tells him that he is Really Useful. However, James tells Duncan that he is Really Useful for bringing the coal to him. Once his tender is topped up with coal, James sets off to collect the children and Duncan agrees that they are both Really Useful Engines.




  • Stock footage from Skarloey the Brave is used. Also, a deleted scene and stock footage from the opening of Thomas getting ready for work that was seen in TV airings was used.
  • This episode marks the first, last and only of a few things:
    • The first time the Thin Controller uses Sir Topham Hatt's "confusion and delay" catchphrase in an episode, albeit inversed.
    • The last appearance of The Old Wooden Bridge and the Tea Room Station.
    • The only model series episode to show James' tired and sad faces on his gauge 3 model.


  • Mighty Mac have Sir Handel's whistle sound.
  • In many scenes, engines are missing their crew from their cabs.
  • Michael Angelis says "James snoted," indicating a narration flub-up.
  • Duncan's truck already has snow on it when the narrator says "Snow started to fall."
  • In the UK dub, Michael Angelis' voice changes when James yells "Pah!"
  • When Duncan puffs up to James to tease him his steam platform can be seen. You can also see it when Duncan arrives back at the wharf after the first delivery of coal.
  • When James comes back to the wharf after getting more coal there is no coal at the top of his tender. But in the closeup of Duncan in the shot afterwards there is coal at the top of his tender again.
  • In the US dub, Michael Brandon can be heard running out of breath when he laughs as Duncan, so a new audio recording of him has to be used when he switches scenes and talks about James.
  • In the Indonesian dub, there is one scene where James is called Jakes.

In Other Languages

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Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese O Desafio de Duncan
Chinese Mandarin 邓肯的骗局
Croatian Ivanov trik
Czech Duncanùv blaf
Danish Duncan laver narrestreger
Finnish Tauno huijausta
German Duncans Trick
Hungarian Ki a Gyorsabb?
Indonesian Tantangan Duncan
Italian Il Trucco di Duncan
Japanese まけずぎらいのダンカン
Korean 던컨의 속임수
Latin American Spanish El Desafío de Duncan
Norwegian Dunan jukser
Polish Podstęp Damiana
Portuguese Duncan em Gerador
Romanian Cacealmaua lui Duncan
Russian Обман Данкана
Spanish La Mentira de Duncan
Swedish Duncan bluffar
Turkish Duncan blöfü

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